In 2008 Public Enemy celebrated the 20th Anniversary of their groundbreaking hip-hop masterpiece, It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back. The group (with all of their members intact, except Terminator X) played the album in its entirety at select tour stops.
In between songs, Chuck D would drop a little history on the audience. Before P.E. broke into track #9, “Show ‘Em Whatcha Got,” Chuck told the crowd that the group used to sequence their albums with cassette tapes in mind–creating both an A-side and a B-Side.
(above: Chuck D’s stage banter: educational and informative!)
Right before It Takes a Nation was mastered, producer Hank Shocklee decided the album needed some more bass and speed at the beginning, so he swapped sides. If it wasn’t for his game-time decision, P.E.’s seminal work would have opened with “Show ‘Em Whatcha Got” (instead of “Countdown To Armagedon”) and closed with “Caught, Can We Get A Witness” (instead of “Party For Your Right To Fight”).
Listening to It Takes A Nation in its original sequence (although, if you ever owned a cassette or vinyl version of it, you unknowingly did this a gazillion times) won’t blow your mind, but it will give you a new perspective on the album.
I know, cause after the performance I ran home and did just that.